Movie Review: The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Hello there, my friends! I hope you’re day is going well. Anyway, it’s once again time for Akira Kurosunday. So let’s chat about this movie.

Ladies and gents… “The Hidden Fortress”.

The story follows Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara), two lowly peasants trying to get by. But then one day they get the opportunity of a lifetime when they meet a man and a woman (Toshiro Mifune and Misa Uehara) who promise the pair a bunch of gold in exchange for helping escort them across hostile territory. What the pair o’ peasants don’t know though is that the man and woman may be more than meets the eye. “The Hidden Fortress” is slightly different from the previous Kurosawa flicks we’ve covered so far. It’s not an examination of truth and lies, or a deep dive into the darkness of a man’s soul, or even a four hour epic about different people coming together. This is a more straightforward adventure story, going for less of a deep, nuanced thing, and aiming to be more of a fun affair. And I think it succeeds at that quite well, telling a very entertaining story with enough little turns to make it a little more interesting. I do feel that the pacing isn’t the best in this movie, as it drag a little in parts for me. It doesn’t completely break the experience for me, but it’s noticeable enough to bring it down a little bit. But otherwise I highly enjoyed the story told here.

The characters in this are all colorful and entertaining. First up we have the two peasants, played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara. They have a very fun dynamic, and they help add a lot of comedy throughout the entire movie. And Chiaki and Fujiwara both give really solid performances. And I think it goes without saying how good Toshiro Mifune is in his role. And Misa Uehara does a solid job with her role too. It’s just generally a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think he did a really good job with the music here. It very much fits the fun adventure style that the story is going for. It has enough grandeur to add some weight to proceedings, but it also clearly never goes for anything too serious. It’s just a fun score that works very well for this movie.

As you already figured, “The Hidden Fortress” was directed by Akira Kurosawa, and as per usual he of course knocked it out of the park. This was also his first venture into widescreen filmmaking, and he took full advantage of that fact. He has stuff going on throughout the entire screen, giving us a lot of beautiful wides of both action and stillness. He and cinematographer Kazuo Yamazaki really outdid themselves here in giving us a lot of breathtaking shots and sequences. Must’ve dented the floor with how many times my jaw dropped.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

While the pacing drags a little bit in parts, I still find “The Hidden Fortress” to be a highly entertaining piece of filmmaking. It has a good story, good characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hidden Fortress” is an 8.87/10. So I’d say that it ‘s definitely worth buying.

My review of “The Hidden Fortress” is now completed.

Fortress: Hidden
Movie: Very visible.

Movie Review: Throne of Blood (1957)

Hello there, friends, and welcome back to Akira Kurosunday! So, are we all ready to talk about an old movie? Yeah? Cool! So let’s go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Throne of Blood”.

The story follows Taketoki Washizu (Toshiro Mifune), a hardened general as he works, with the constant egging on by his wife (Isuzu Yamada), to fulfill a prophecy that says he will become lord of a mighty castle. If you’re thinking to yourself “Gee golly willikers, Uncle Markus, this sounds a mighty bit like Macbeth”. How observant of you, reader. That’s right “Throne of Blood” takes the setup and themes of the famed play and merges them with elements from traditional Japanese storytelling, which makes for an insanely compelling narrative. What also helps the storytelling out quite a bit is the immaculate atmosphere of the movie, which makes everything feel a bit off. But not off as in bad, but off as in “Something is weird”, which gives the movie an interesting and unique vibe that adds quite a bit of nuance to everything going on. It’s just a great story that adapts the classic play to great effect.

The characters in this are all pretty flawed and nuanced, and I think they all work well here, all helping build onto the drama quite well. I would say more, but I don’t wanna go into too many details (spoilers and all that jazz). I’ll simply say that Toshiro Mifune is fantastic as usual in the lead, playing the mad, power hungry shtick ridiculously well. And in the supporting roles we find people like Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura, Akira Kubo, Minoru Chiaki, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Masaru Sato, and I think that he did a great job with it. His score for it is very atmospheric and kind of eerie for a lot of it, complementing the slightly surreal mood I mentioned earlier. But there are also a few more bombastic (for lack of a better word) tracks as well, and those work quite well in their respective scenes too. It’s just a damn solid score that elevates the movie even further.

As mentioned early in the review, “Throne of Blood” is based on William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, and was directed by Akira Kurosawa. Aaaaand Kurosawa of course brought his A-game with the direction. What I’ve noticed with each of his movies I’ve seen is that his craft gets better and better. And while I love his direction in the last two movies, I really think that this is the best I’ve seen from him so far. The way he composes movement, the way he puts you on edge with simple angles, the way he brings you into the action, Kurosawa handles any and all situation beautifully and showed just how ahead of his time he was. And the cinematography by Asakazu Nakai is fucking gorgeous.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.1/10.

So yeah, Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” is another winner. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Throne of Blood” is a 9.88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Throne of Blood” is now completed.

So many arrows…